What we do:

Produce research

Our interdisciplinary group currently generates research on a range of topics focused on the families of Military, Veteran and Public Safety Personnel including mental health, post-traumatic stress, operational stress, work-family conflict, trauma, and resilience(y).


Build capacity

We recognize the unique training needs for current and future family researchers to be equipped to rapidly respond to the research priorities and knowledge mobilization needs within and across high-risk professions.

If you are interested in exploring graduate studies through a Master’s in Rehabilitation Science, a PhD in Rehabilitation Science, or an applied doctorate DSc in Health and Rehabilitation Leadership, please contact heidi.cramm@queensu.ca

If you are interested in exploring graduate studies in Family Studies and Gerontology, please follow this link.

We are committed to developing and sustaining relationships with families of those working in high-risk occupations, as well as organizations that serve and support families.

If you or your organization would like to know more about how FMRG might be able to work with you, please contact us at familiesmatter@queensu.ca

We are currently engaged in a variety of research projects focused on the health and well-being of the families of military, Veteran, and public safety personnel. The work we do is highly interconnected as we weave together a complex matrix of multiple-methods projects and findings that advance what we know about families and how they are both affected by and affect service in military and public safety sectors.


HomeBase: Enhancing mental wellness in public safety personnel families


This CIHR-funded team grant has many pieces. Public safety personnel (PSP), including police officers, fire fighters, paramedics, corrections personnel, and communications officers, are routinely exposed to potentially traumatic critical incidents that can have negative effects on their mental health and well-being. These negative effects can ripple into their family systems, which are already contending with PSP lifestyle dimensions like shiftwork and sleep disruption. Little is known about the specific experiences of PSP families, so we leveraged what our team had come to understand from years of working with military and Veteran families to help catapult us forward, faster. We wanted to be sure we approached the PSP family lifestyle with an assumption that there are positives and negatives to which families work to adapt. We also wanted to make sure to search out and showcase the perspective of the family members who are not serving as PSP, while recognizing that those who are serving have key perspectives too.

  • Reviews.

Why reviews? Synthesizing what is already known in a field is a critical approach to help identify, describe, and synthesize the research and the state of the evidence itself. Reviews also take a lot of time as they have many separate steps. We are into analysis and writing up several reviews that carve out the perspective of the families of PSP as well as the perspective of the PSP on families, drawing out both qualitative (e.g., interviews) and quantitative (e.g., surveys) to help us better understand the experiences and impacts of public safety jobs on families, and vice versa. We are also mindful that these may be shared or distinct depending on whose perspective is being sought as well as which sector research participants are connected to. Want to find out more? Contact our doctoral candidate, Rachel Richmond at rachel.richmond@queensu.ca.

  • Environmental scans.

A structured method of collecting and analyzing information, environmental scans are particularly useful to gather information about trends and emerging issues to detect gaps that inform organizational initiatives. An environmental scan is an iterative process, as gaps in the collected information or new queries may arise during data gathering; the analyzed data can be used to support evidence-based decision making. We have been exploring all public facing PSP sector organization and association websites to identify how and when families are included in their website. We have also been searching to identify all public websites that focus on PSP family supports and resources. Interested to know more? Contact our Research Scientist, Dr. Linna Tam-Seto at linna.tam-seto@queensu.ca.

  • Individual and group interviews.

Interviews are an important data collection strategy as they allow us to explore how people experience a given phenomenon. Interviews can be with one person or with groups of people, depending on the given research question and purpose. As we finish up the scans and the reviews, we are shifting into individual interviews and focus groups. We are recruiting PSP family members and PSP sector representatives to really dig into these issues, building the separate perspectives that help us to better understand how to provide what kinds of supports to PSP families. For more information about interviews with PSP family members, contact our doctoral candidate, Rachel Richmond at rachel.richmond@queensu.ca.



In the ongoing context of the COVID-19 global pandemic, all families have been facing sudden and significant disruption to daily life while managing the risks and requirements that COVID-19 and associated counter measures impose. For families of public safety personnel and military, there are additional stressors related to the increased occupational risk and rapidly evolving occupational requirements their loved ones have had to absorb to ensure the safety and society of our communities. The overall goal of the proposed partnership is to collect, aggregate, synthesize, and disseminate emerging practices that respond to COVID-related stressors impacting the families of public safety and military personnel. To find out more, please contact heidi.cramm@queensu.ca.

Research team: Dr. Heidi Cramm, Dr. Deborah Norris

Funder: Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

Partner: The Vanier Institute of the Family

Trainees: TBD

Partnership Development Grant: Families matter: A partnership of partners to study, serve, and support the families of military, Veterans, and public safety personnel

This partnership development grant will enable the Families Matter Research Group to activate a partnership to study, serve and support the families of military, Veteran and public safety personnel across CIMVHR, CIPSRT, and the Vanier Institute of the Family. Partners will develop required research and training infrastructure in Canada that will focus and accelerate family research with the lens of occupational risk and requirement. This lens is vital, as the occupational risks and requirements of these careers can impact the entire family unit. Heightened job-related risks, prolonged absences and frequent relocation all impact family functioning, family experiences and family well-being. There are few family science programs dedicated to the systematic study of and with these families. Therefore, a priority of the partnership development grant will be to identify and prioritize the methods, theories and training needs for current and future family researchers to equip rapid response to research priorities and knowledge mobilization needs within, across and beyond the military, Veteran and public safety sectors. The partners will identify shared family research needs and priorities, and develop a convergent knowledge mobilization strategy. For more information, contact heidi.cramm@queensu.ca or pcharbonneau@vanierinstitute.ca

Research team: Dr. Heidi Cramm (PI & Project Co-Director), Paul Charbonneau (Project Co-Director, Vanier Institute of the Family), Dr. Deborah Norris, Dr. Joy MacDermid, Dr. Alyson Mahar, Dr. Denise Dubois, Prof. Nicola T. Fear, Dr. R. Nicholas Carleton, Dr. Nick Jones and Dr. David Pedlar

Funder: Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

Trainees: TBD

1) Public Safety Personnel Family Resilience: A Narrative Review (in progress):

The objective of this narrative review is to identify the stressors that PSP families experience and the types of supports that are needed to enhance resilience. The focus is strength-based and attends to the cumulative and acute stressors that can put PSP families at risk. Factors influencing family capabilities, existing resources, and the interdependence of family members provide clues about the type of skills that PSP families rely on to successfully manage both expected and unexpected demands. Though most PSP families function well, outcomes depend on the “type, frequency, length, and accumulation of stressors” (Cramm et al., 2018, p. 630). There is, therefore, a need for public safety organizations and communities to be cognizant of the variability and vulnerability of PSP families and to supplement intrafamilial resources with formal and informal supports to enhance their capacity for resilience.

Marilyn Cox, MFSG
Research Assistant, Dept. Family Studies and Gerontology. Mount Saint Vincent University


Surviving Spouses Program

Spouses are known to be the strength beside the uniform for military and public safety personnel. For any spouse, losing their partner is devastating and this loss leads to a major shift in all aspects of their life. Spouses are usually grieving and coming to terms with their loss over time, which may vary for everyone. Grief is a normal response to loss that, over time, becomes less intrusive and disruptive to daily life; however, for some grief can become complicated and prolonged in which the distressing symptoms affect their everyday functioning. Wounded Warriors Canada, an organization committed to supporting Canada’s ill and injured Canadian Armed Forces members, Veterans, First Responders, and their families, recognizes the difficulties spouses endure. As such, the Surviving Spouses Program was designed to support spouses who have lost their partners as a direct or indirect result of their job. The Surviving Spouses Program is a group-based, psycho-educational and counselling program for spouses. For programs to be effective and meet the intended purpose, continual evaluation is essential. Therefore, the current project is a collaboration between Wounded Warriors Canada and Queen’s University, supported by Mitacs, with the goal of researchers independently evaluating the Surviving Spouses Program to support the refinement and evolution of the program to meet participants needs. For more information, contact kamaldeep.gill@queensu.ca.

Research team: Dr. Heidi Cramm

Funder: Wounded Warriors Canada & Mitacs Accelerate

Trainees: Dr. Kamaldeep Gill